Flooding – The Secondary Effects

Flooding is something we’ve recently experienced on a scale that really hasn’t been seen before.

I’m not a scientist or meteorologist, but experts say this is due to either or both La Niña and climate change. 

Flooding – the Primary Effects

Primarily, flooding is going to result in mould issues. Mould is a moisture issue and with the abundance of moisture (rain, on the ground and the high levels of relative humidity), we’re seeing a perfect storm brewing for mould and microbial activity.

The focus of today’s post is the secondary effects.

So, I’ll leave the topic of mould here, with the following pointers:

  • Anything that’s been wet for more than 48 hours can create the opportunity for mould and microbial activity
  • Porous materials that have been wet, need to be replaced
  • Semi- and non-porous materials can be saved, but need to be addressed by the appropriate professionals (those who’ve trained with IICRC and have achieved the Mould Remediation accreditation)

If you want to learn more about dealing with mould, I have a course by that very name – you can check it out here.

As well, we need to keep asbestos, lead and pesticides top of mind – and use PPE where appropriate.

The Secondary Effects of Flooding

Secondary effects are those that come after the immediate cause >> effect. For these, we’ll start more broadly and then narrow it down to our homes and buildings.


With all the moisture in the soil, it is possible to have landslides. 

Local councils (in Australia) apply different overlays to areas – check with yours to see if you have a landslide overlay on your property.

Falling Trees and Branches

All that water in the soil can loosen tree roots and result in them falling. 

As well, the flooding may have killed some trees, and as a result, the trees or their branches can fall.

Obviously, this can result in damage to property or people and animals.


Mosquitoes (or “mossies” as we call them here in Australia) are able to carry diseases. 

Apart from that, if you’re like me, you get huge red welts from any bites! (Personal experience has taught me not to scratch!)

It is best not to get bitten – so keeping them out is preferred. Here are some ideas to help with that.

  • This is as simple as installing fly screens over windows and doors
  • Mossie zappers can be useful (installed, hanging or even the “table tennis” racquet style [which you can get from camping stores])
  • If you choose to apply mossie repellents to your skin, choose a natural one, if you can
    • You can check out www.ChemFreeCom.com for some safer, local options
    • www.EWG.org will also list options, however, I’ve found that these are often not available in Australia (and I don’t recommend purchasing these types of items online from overseas as they may not meet our safety standards)
    • I’m going to bring back my essential oil based Bug Repellent (contact me if you’re interested)
  • If you opt for a non-natural option, apply an oil-based moisturiser on your skin first, so the repellent sits on the surface of your skin (and is also easier to wash of)
  • Another way to use the non-natural option is to spray it onto clothing, instead of your skin
  • DIY – make your own with essential oils, such as tea tree, rosemary, eucalyptus blue mallee, and lavender. You can mix them up in water and spray them on your clothes/skin and reapply every 2-3 hours
Flooding - The Secondary Effects- landslides, fallen trees, mosquitoes


We can expect some pretty big issues with termites with the high levels of moisture.

According to Professor Dieter Hochuli, Integrative Ecology Group at the University of Sydney,

“It’s going to be a massive year for termites as the high levels of soil moisture are ideal for them to burrow and flourish” (ABC News, 31 Oct 22). 

A bit like house dust mites, termites thrive in moist conditions.

Termites are attracted by the moisture then go in search of food – wood. 

Here are some things to do.

  • Clear away wood (fallen branches, sleepers, wood piles) from around your home and property
  • Keep things as dry as you can
  • Be vigilant – keep an eye on your building, including the subfloor. If you’ve got termite caps at the top of your stumps, then you should be able to spot their activity easily. 
  • Have your home inspected
  • Termite traps can be useful around your property, too

Cockroaches and Rodents

Cockroaches and rodents (rats and mice), as well as other pests are likely to increase, particularly as the weather warms up.

Some actions that you can take are:

  • Installing fly screens on windows and doors
  • Keep your home clean
  • Clean up food scraps and mess
  • Ensure your bins close properly
  • If you’ve got a compost bin, keep it away from the home
  • If you’ve got chooks, look into getting a feeder that doesn’t spill their food around
  • Keep pet food (and your own) in sealed containers
Flooding - The Secondary Effects - rodents, termites, cockroaches

Other Steps You Can Take To Reduce the Secondary (and Tertiary) Effects of Flooding

  • Keep an eye on the relative humidity levels – these should be between 40-60%. A hygrometer is handy for this.
  • Use a dehumidifier to reduce the humidity levels.
  • Clean up any spills, leaks or water (or other forms of moisture).
  • Oregano and Thyme essential oils can be helpful in killing mould as you clean.
  • Keep your home clean from food (cockroaches and rodents love this) and dust (house dust mites love this).
  • Ventilate your home as much as possible – open doors and windows to exchange the air.
  • Read more –

There are many after effects of flooding – apart from the obvious ones. And these secondary effects can also be devastating. Please give these tips a go to protect your health, and that of your home.

Stay safe!

Mould Busting 3 Common Myths cover

Have you been bamboozled by all the information (and misinformation) about mould?

This Creating a Healthy Home Guide exposes 3 common myths about mould so that you can be empowered to deal with it effectively.

Download your FREE copy of Mould: Busting 3 Common Myths here.

Managing Mould

Managing #mould. It’s everywhere, so how?

Managing mould doesn’t have to be an uphill battle.

Managing Mould At Your Place

Since mould is a moisture issue, we are going to focus on moisture.

Moisture can come from weather-events, building-related issues and occupant activity. Today, we are going to focus on occupant activity – this is what you do within your “four walls.”

My top 5 sources of increased moisture include:

  1. Bathing – showering or bathing
  2. Using the clothes dryer
  3. Hanging laundry inside
  4. Cooking, especially with gas 
  5. Breathing

These are all regular events in most households, so what can you do?

The first step is to monitor the levels of relative humidity (RH) to help keep mould at bay. The ideal range is between 45-55% RH. 

To understand more about humidity, please read this post.

A simple and inexpensive way to monitor RH is with a hygrometer – you can get a simple one here

Some Simple Steps

Based on my top sources of moisture, managing mould can be done simply and easily by following these seven simple steps.

  1. Use the extractor fans when bathing, cooking or doing the laundry
  2. Dry your laundry outside
  3. If you do have to use a dryer, vent the dryer to the exterior
  4. Make sure you use the extractor fan every time you cook. If you don’t have one, then open windows to all for cross-ventilation
  5. Open your windows and doors! It can take as few as TWO MINUTES to exchange the air in your home. It is essential to do this as often as possible – at least 6 times day
  6. Consider a dehumidifier (especially if your extractor fans vent to the ceiling void, and not outside)
  7. Consider an air purifier to help to keep the air clean

If you would like to explore this further and get my advice,
then book a Virtual Indoor Environmental Health Assessment here.

Home is the Most Important Place

Home is the most important place. It is our castle.

Home is our safety haven, our sacred space, our island in the midst of the world.

For many of us, the world can be a bit full-on. The onslaught of fragrances, noise, wi-fi, people, lights… it can be overwhelming at times.

Also, most of these things are out of our control.

The best thing to do is to have a healing, safe, and nourishing home to come back to.

A virtual Indoor Environmental Health Assessment Can Short-Cut Your Route to a Healthy Nurturing Space

By assessing your home with great care, and attention to detail, we can shortcut the agonising searching for information and hazards.

Whether it be:

  • electromagnetic fields
  • phone towers
  • neighbours wi-fi
  • the smart meter
  • air pollutants
  • indoor air quality
  • volatile organic compounds
  • lead and other heavy metals
  • drinking water contaminants
  • mould and water damage
  • personal care and cleaning products
  • and more!

By assessing your home, I can determine the hazards, the potential problems AND provide you with solutions.

Many of my clients experience not only peace of mind, but improved health after implementing the recommendations.

They know that they have made their home safe for their families.

Get in touch so we can arrange your assessment.

Condensation: An Enormous Issue In Buildings

Condensation: an Enormous Issue in Buildings

Condensation is an enormous issues in buildings, whether they be older buildings with single glazed windows and/or no insulation OR brand new buildings that are built to be energy efficient.

“My Building Is New, There is No Mould”

So I am told by many people when they call about at assessment of their home.

“I have NO MOULD, Everything is Dry Now…

Others tell me. And I even hear:

“There is No Mould in My House… but There is a Musty Smell”


<<Picture me rubbing my chin and nodding slowly>>

All three of these cases do not preclude the presence of mould. The other thing to remember is that you cannot always smell mould when it is present.

Here is a video I did to explain about buildings built to code:

So why are we talking about mould when we started with condensation?

Mould has very basic needs: food and moisture.

Food is everywhere. Moisture can be controlled.

Condensation – Why is it an Issue? What is it? How Does it Form? Where Can it Occur?

It is an issue because it forms whenever a building material, or air, reaches dew point. What this means is that the material becomes cold enough to condense water out of the air – which is when droplets form… condensation. Condensation forms on the warm side of the material… Think about a bottle of cold water. The droplets of condensation form on the outside of the bottle.

In winter, a house that is warmed could have condensation forming under the metal roof or in the walls on the inner side of the sarking. As well, it often occurs on the inside of windows.

In summer, a house that is cooled could have condensation forming on the outside of windows, on the outer side of sarking and even within the building envelope where there are changes in temperatures.

This is a problem because it can result in building materials becoming wet enough to support the proliferation of mould (aka mould growth).

This can occur in roof spaces, wall cavities, window frames, and so on.

Research done by Dewsbury, et al, found that buildings built to code may be water damaged and mouldy within their first winter.

This is a big deal.

Condensation can be a large contributing factor to the mould burden in a building – so do take it seriously.

Are you affected by mould and want to learn more?
Click here to find out more about our Inner Circle.


Dewsbury, Dr M, Law, Dr T, Henderson, Dr A (17 Feb 2016) Investigation of Destructive Condensation in Australian Cool Temperate Buildings Building Standards and Occupational Licensing, Department of Justice Tasmania, Tasmania

What is in My Water?

What is in my Drinking Water?

Water comes from the tap so it is all good, right?

Well, no.

There are so many ways that our drinking water can become contaminated – which is why it is important to have a good quality filter.

Firstly, much of our drinking water gets treated. Some of this is really important – like chlorine to prevent bug-growth. That said, we don’t want to be drinking it!

Let me explain.

Then there are other additives to clean the water… and often there is a degree of residue…

Suppliers regularly test it – they have “Consumer Taps” where they collect it from various sources. However, they are using the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines – which are less precautionary than what I would like.

Chlorine is added.

Chlorine actually plays an important role – it kills any microorganisms that like to grow in water. So its role is to prevent disease.

However, it is not something that we should consume.

It is still active when it comes out of the tap – and can damage our microbiome.

Then there is fluoride (in many parts of Australia).

This is highly controversial and I am NOT of the opinion that we should be consuming it at all!

I sit on the fence for it being good topically, but I from what I have read, it is not something we should consume.

The path it travels from reservoir to tap…

Then there is the pipes that the water travels in – all in various states of decay.

cement lined asbestos pipes

These photos I took outside my house when they replaced the cement-lined asbestos pipes with polyethylene pipes.

The brown marks on the road are the goop that came out.

underground water pipes

Copper, galvanised metals or plastics… none are great choices. Many have lead solder… and on it goes.

What shall I do?

So, I say, get yourself a good quality filter and know that your water is safe to drink!

Depending on the source, different filtration systems work better…

If you collect water from your roof and use it for cooking, bathing or drinking, then it is essential to filter it.

Book a Hidden Hazards Hotline call to discuss your situation.

Mould Water Damage and Health

Mould, Water Damage and Health

Mould spores are everywhere. They are a vital part of life on earth as they play the important role of breaking things down. However, like most “pests,” within our homes, they can wreak havoc, in two ways.

Before examining these, the following are important points to note.

Mould Doesn’t Have To Be Obvious To Be Present

You may not be able to see or smell mould for it to be present.

Mould can grow in between the walls, under tiles, behind the kickboards in the kitchen, and it can even be growing on the wall without being visible to the naked eye.

Oft times, when you can see is it, it is just the tip of the iceberg, where there is so much more that is out of sight, and the patch you can see is just an indication that it is there.

Mould Doesn’t Have To Be Growing To Be A Problem

Mould releases spores and hyphae (branches) can break off it and circulate in your home. Spores and hyphae both pose risks to human and animal health due to the mycotoxins that they contain.

Wreaking Havoc

Firstly, mould can structurally damage your home. Building materials that are wet for more than 48 hours can create a perfect habitat for mould, primarily as there is both water and source of food.

As well, water-damaged insulation is less effective, and therefore can increase energy consumption.

The presence of moisture can be attractive for vermin and termites, both of which are problematic in terms of the former being capable of carrying disease, and the latter being able to seriously damage the integrity of a building.

Modern building design is centralised around the notion of being energy efficient, this generally means “well-sealed,” which results in a building losing its ability to breathe. A result of this is that moisture cannot escape, and thus building materials, even without being affected by a leak or flood, can become “water-damaged.”

Secondly, mould can wreak havoc with regards to health.

eco health solutions eco

Mould Can Be Problematic

Clearly, the presence of mould, mould spores and/or hyphae can have life-changing consequences.

What follows is a list of signs and symptoms identified that may be related to mould exposure. This is for your information and is not intended to diagnose or to replace the advice or care of your registered health care professional.

Symptoms Associated with a Water-Damaged Building

Of  three systematic reviews on the adverse health effects associated with water-damaged buildings, the following signs and symptoms were consistent: cough, wheeze and asthma.

Other symptoms include upper respiratory tract symptoms, respiratory infections, bronchitis, allergic sensitisation and hay fever. This set of symptoms is also recognised by New York State (2010),

Headaches and tiredness have also been associated with mould exposure (Bornehag et al, in New York State, 2010, 27; IICRC, 2008, 74), as has cause skin reactions (National Institute of Medicine, 2004, 170).

Children and those with preexisting conditions are recognised as being at great risk (New York State, 2010, 27).

Other health effects

Neuropsychological effects, impaired energy production pathways, changes to hormonal functions, alterations to visuo-spatial learning and memory, migraine, pain, balance problems, autonomic nervous system abnormalities, and respiratory problems were all noted in research analysed by the Mold Research Committee (2010).

The National Institute of Medicine acknowledges that there are a group of mycotoxins that “selectively or specifically target the nervous system” resulting in neurotoxic effects, some of which include interfering with neurotransmitters or receptors (2004, 157, 160).

Many sources correlate mould-exposure to sick building syndrome, this is discussed at length in IICRC, 2008). By removing a person from a mouldy environment, it has been noted that their symptoms dissipate (New York State, 2010, 27).

Looking deeper, there is a growing body of research that implicates mould in inflammation (as discussed by the Mold Research Committee, 2010).

eco-health-solutions natural



  1. an area has been wet for more than 48 hours;
  2. there is a history of water damage; or
  3. you have any concerns

… it is worth getting your in touch.

#mould #waterdamage #health


IICRC S520. (2008).Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Mould Remediation. (2nd ed). ANSI/IICRCS520-2008. Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification. Vancouver, Washington. USA.

Mold Research Committee (27 July 2010) “Research Committee Report on Diagnosis and Treatment of Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome Caused by Exposure to the Interior Environment of Water-Damaged Buildings” Policyholders of America (Online) Available: http://courses.aces.edu.au/pluginfile.php/720/mod_resource/content/1/Policy%20Holders%20of%20America%20%282011%29%20CIRS.pdf

National Institute of Medicine (2004). Damp indoor spaces and health. National Academies Press. (Online). Available: http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309091934

New York State. (2010). Toxic Mould Task Force. Final report to the governor and legislature. (Online). Available: https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/indoors/air/mould/task_force/docs/final_ toxic_mould_task_force_report.pdf

Sick Building Syndrome – What Does it Mean?

What is a “Sick Building”?

Have you heard about “Sick Building Syndrome”?

This is where the occupants of a building are sick because of something in a building where they spend time.

What makes people sick are known as “environmental stressors” – environmental hazards that place a stress on our immune system.

This can be anything from water damage and mould, to indoor air quality, to electromagnetic fields. It may be from components of the building itself, such as lead. Or even from the land where the building was erected – a form of “geopathic stress.”

In Australia, this term is somewhat understood, but far less people really understand what “Building Biology” is.

An Interview

When I began this career, I was an active committee member of my professional association. In my time as President, Nicole Groch from LivingSafe.com.au interviewed me about “building biology.”

Here is a snippet of it:

You may have heard of someone using a Building Biologist to check out their home for radiation, mold and sick building syndrome, but you really are not exactly sure what it is they do and who they are….

I personally have hired a Building Biologist to come out and measure the EMF from the Smart Meter in our home and I am very glad I did. It wasn’t just the smart meter that was the problem. It was also our transformer base study lamps, that we were using as bedside lamps and high EMF hot spot was found in our bedroom from an unearthed water pipe running under the floor. Thanks to the Building Biologist we were able to correct these hazards.

So what is a Building Biologist?

In a nutshell, a Building Biologist is a person who has been trained to assess the potential health hazards of a building or built environment. We adopt the Precautionary Principle, that is, if something hasn’t been proven to be safe, then we err on the side of caution and aim to minimise exposure or risks.

… Read it all here.

Another Interview

As well, I chatted with Nicole Bijlsma about Building Biology, the changes in the field, and what is required of a Building Biologist.


#buildingbiology #environmentalsensitivities

revised 20/4/20